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‘If I can inspire just one person to pick up an instrument, I’m happy.’ One-handed pianist, Nicholas McCarthy.

Nicholas McCarthy was born without his right-hand; a minor set-back for such a tenacious and committed individual, who, at 14, turned his attention to playing the piano. Unfortunately, some people didn’t think this was a worthwhile pursuit. Refused entry to a local music school and told he was ‘wasting his time’, Nicholas used others’ doubt and rejection to propel his journey to stardom. Accepted into the distinguished and world-renowned Royal College of Music, Nicholas became the first left-handed student to graduate in the college’s 130-year history. Recently signed to Warner Music, Nicholas has toured the world with his left-handed repertoire; performed alongside Coldplay for the 2012 Paralympics closing ceremony, and is living-proof that the word ‘no’ should never be an obstacle to achieving our goals.

Nicholas McCarthy appears by kind permission of Warner Classics.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • What inspired Nicholas McCarthy to start playing the piano at 14-years old.
  • How Nicholas dealt with rejection by the teacher who told him he’d ‘never be a pianist.’
  • How he convinced his parents to pay for piano lessons.
  • How he combats the negativity of doubters.
  • How being told not to audition for college motivated Nicholas further.
  • How running enhances Nicholas’ musical performance and stamina.
  • What frustrates Nicholas about the public’s perception of ‘classical music.’
  • How and why we should inspire children with classical music.
  • How it feels to play alongside Coldplay.

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Episode resources:

Nicholas McCarthy official website


Royal College of Music

Nicholas McCarthy with Coldplay

Katherine Jenkins


Nicola Benedetti

James Rhodes

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons – 25th Anniversary Edition

Vanessae Mae


Follow Nicholas McCarthy on TwitterFacebook and YouTube

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Keep seeking friends; the truth is out there!

Victoria xx


  1. Russell Kerr

    I admire his strength of character and determination to succeed, and never taking no for an answer.

    1. Victoria Author

      Yep, vital life skills, Russell. Amazing person to interview.

  2. Carlos Keeble

    I really enjoyed this podcast as it brought back many memories for me, very inspiring.

    I had my first piano lesson at the age of 6 and religiously practiced every Sunday morning for 3 years, then distractions came my way, which finally culminated it me pleading with my parents, much against their will to stop, a decision I still regret to these days.

    However I will be visiting a music shop soon to view some keyboards, and try to rekindle those early days.

    1. Victoria Author

      Fabulous, Carlos. Love to hear how the podcast is inspiring people. Good luck keyboard shopping :)

  3. Now I want to see him in concert. Love his energy and positivity!

    1. Victoria Author

      Us too! Missed him when he came to our hometown. Won’t happen again!

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